Wednesday, April 30, 2008
I thought ya'll might be getting tired of all the "news" posts. So let's take a step back and let the hilarity resume.
For your amusement, I present 1180 Cleveland Wy, Corona Ca. This a a large one story home up in the Amberhill area of Corona. The home has 6 bedrooms, 4.5 baths and is 3808 s/f on a .65 acre lot. It has a few whistles and bells such as a pool and fancy outdoor BBQ/kitchen. It looks like a nice house but with 6 bedrooms in 3808 s/f it might be a little crowded and I expect those bedrooms are on the tiny side.
The home appears to have been built in 2003 and it does not indicate what the original selling price was. It sold Jan 2006 for 1.4 million. That might have been the original price as it states this was a former model home. If my math is correct that's a whopping $367 a sq/ft. The big spender was not able to keep up the payments and the bank now finds itself as the owner of this property (The foreclosure amount is also not listed). It just hit the market for $787,500. That is a 44% drop from the last sale or a loss of $612,500 (plus fees). Making this home the newest member of the $600k club!
The Newest $700k club member is in the same area as the last home. 1015 Lowrey Ranch rd is in the Crown Ranch estate. This home qualifies as a mansion with 5 bedrooms and 6 baths in just over 5400 sq/ft. It sits on a .8 acre lot. Other than the zillow aerial shot there are no pics so it's hard to say what condition it's in but homes like this are not usually trashed. This one was also a previous model according to the short and useless description. This home is a short sale and as such may or may not actually be approved at this price. The home is listed for 1.12 million and it sold last in May 2006 for 1.83 million. If the bank were to go for this price the loss is $710k plus fees.
Empire Land has gone bankrupt. You may have never heard of them but they are a large outfit and have some very large developments in Southern California and Arizona. Many of these are not finished. One of my favorite whipping communities is an Empire Land development. It's The Retreat is south Corona. What happens now in that community? Would you buy a house in there now?
Blaming the national real-estate market's blowout, a local housing-land developer has gone bankrupt and left more than $5.1million of unpaid loans in the lap of its largest creditor, Rancho Cucamonga-based PFF Bancorp Inc.
There are other loans, but Ontario-based Empire Land LLC left PFF's Pomona First Federal Bank & Trust holding the bag on the unpaid loans.
Other big-name creditors listed include homebuilder D.R. Horton and Charlotte, N.C.-based banking giant Wachovia.
The documents, filed recently in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Riverside, show that PFF Bancorp holds the largest unsecured claim in the Inland Empire.
More than a dozen other creditors and consultants to Empire Land - several of which are located in the two-county region - are being left with thousands of dollars in unpaid loans and debt, according to court documents.
The company owned or had interests in 11,800 properties across 14 California land projects as of March 31, according to court documents. Its sister company, Aviat Homes L.P., owned 330 residential properties - some unfinished - in California, with projects in Hesperia, Moreno Valley and Brentwood. This brings to light one of the major pitfalls of buying a home in an unfinished development when the market is tanking. What happens if the builder goes belly up. You might very well be stuck in a half finished development for years. If the developer has unpaid bills often times the contractors or suppliers will file a mechanics lien against the finished homes. This has been happening quite a lot lately. Much of this same stuff happened in the last real estate bust. Many tracts of homes were left half built. Parks were not built as promised, roads were not finished and is some cases flood control work and drainage was not finished. Not to mention, if the builder does go kaput so does your home warranty! It's not hard to find nightmare stories about all these situations and many that are worse. Buying a home in a new tract in these conditions is a gamble. If anyone is thinking of making that bet be sure to check out the financial standing of the builder or developer. Try and stick with larger builders. Small builders can go from solid to vapor in a matter of weeks. And if your home is not finished when that happens you can find your deposit money has also turned into vapor.
The company owned or had interests in 11,800 properties across 14 California land projects as of March 31, according to court documents.
Its sister company, Aviat Homes L.P., owned 330 residential properties - some unfinished - in California, with projects in Hesperia, Moreno Valley and Brentwood.
This brings to light one of the major pitfalls of buying a home in an unfinished development when the market is tanking. What happens if the builder goes belly up. You might very well be stuck in a half finished development for years. If the developer has unpaid bills often times the contractors or suppliers will file a mechanics lien against the finished homes. This has been happening quite a lot lately. Much of this same stuff happened in the last real estate bust. Many tracts of homes were left half built. Parks were not built as promised, roads were not finished and is some cases flood control work and drainage was not finished. Not to mention, if the builder does go kaput so does your home warranty! It's not hard to find nightmare stories about all these situations and many that are worse.
Buying a home in a new tract in these conditions is a gamble. If anyone is thinking of making that bet be sure to check out the financial standing of the builder or developer. Try and stick with larger builders. Small builders can go from solid to vapor in a matter of weeks. And if your home is not finished when that happens you can find your deposit money has also turned into vapor.
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Inventory way up, sales way down!
(no story needed!)
Riverside/SanBerdu is number 2 in the nation in foreclosures.
We've arrived in second place, and first place could be around the corner.
The San Bernardino-Riverside area ranked No. 2 nationwide in the first quarter of this year in foreclosure filings, according to a report published today by Irvine-based real-estate data company RealtyTrac.
"Foreclosure filings" include default notices, auction sales, and bank repossessions.
Banks repossessed almost 10,000 homes in the region from January to March, while default notices clocked in at almost 23,600.
And buyers put money down on more than 3,700 foreclosures.
Real-estate expert Michael Carney isn't surprised.
"As more prices fall, there are more homes with no equity," said the director of Real Estate Research Council at Cal Poly Pomona. "If you have no equity in your property, and prices are falling, you have no incentive but to walk away."
One in every 38 households reported a foreclosure filing in the two counties.
Statewide foreclosure filings jumped 213 percent from the first quarter of 2007, and even higher - 230 percent - in San Bernardino and Riverside counties.No sign of a bottom
NEW YORK - In a bad omen for sellers and lenders this spring home selling season, the erosion of house values is accelerating and foreclosure filings are doubling, new data showed Tuesday.
A closely watched index of home prices in 20 cities fell almost 13 percent in February from a year earlier, a record for the 7-year-old S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price index. The report follows news that foreclosure filings between January and March also hit a new high, and comes a day after the government said the number of vacant homes on the market also set a record. "Month-to-month, it gets consistently worse," said David Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at S&P. "The slope is one direction. There is no sign of a bottom." New construction down nearly 60% ( I thought the number would be higher) Home construction has skidded to a near-standstill in Inland Southern California, with the number of new homes started in the first three months of 2008 dropping 59 percent in Riverside County and 64 percent in San Bernardino County compared to the same period a year earlier, a building consultant said Friday. "It is not a housing recession anymore. It is a housing depression and the Inland Empire is the epicenter," said Steve Johnson, director of MetroStudy, a Riverside firm that tracks construction trends. The biggest obstacle builders face is tighter lending qualifications for buyers, he said. In addition, people hesitate to buy for fear that home prices may continue to fall or they will be harmed by the region's softening economy, he said. "Every time we think we found the bottom, something happens globally," Winckel said. "We have gone long beyond the stage where it was all about (the collapse of) the subprime mortgage market," referring to the failure of ill-conceived mortgages that has contributed to a rash of foreclosures.
A closely watched index of home prices in 20 cities fell almost 13 percent in February from a year earlier, a record for the 7-year-old S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price index. The report follows news that foreclosure filings between January and March also hit a new high, and comes a day after the government said the number of vacant homes on the market also set a record.
"Month-to-month, it gets consistently worse," said David Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at S&P. "The slope is one direction. There is no sign of a bottom."
New construction down nearly 60% ( I thought the number would be higher)
Home construction has skidded to a near-standstill in Inland Southern California, with the number of new homes started in the first three months of 2008 dropping 59 percent in Riverside County and 64 percent in San Bernardino County compared to the same period a year earlier, a building consultant said Friday.
"It is not a housing recession anymore. It is a housing depression and the Inland Empire is the epicenter," said Steve Johnson, director of MetroStudy, a Riverside firm that tracks construction trends.
The biggest obstacle builders face is tighter lending qualifications for buyers, he said. In addition, people hesitate to buy for fear that home prices may continue to fall or they will be harmed by the region's softening economy, he said.
"Every time we think we found the bottom, something happens globally," Winckel said. "We have gone long beyond the stage where it was all about (the collapse of) the subprime mortgage market," referring to the failure of ill-conceived mortgages that has contributed to a rash of foreclosures.
Here’s the news report from Realty Times.
Call it the backlash after the boom: Major lenders and mortgage insurers are turning off the money spigot for investors who want to buy rental houses or condos with minimal downpayments.
The most dramatic cutback takes effect next week, when giant mortgage insurer United Guaranty -- a subsidiary of AIG International, the world's biggest underwriter -- says it will stop covering loans to investors in any of the thousands of Zip codes from coast to coast that it defines as "declining" real estate markets.
The ban includes all non-owner-occupied rental houses or condos -- including "mom and pop" two-to-four unit properties where the owners occupy one and rent out the rest.
United also is cutting off coverage of all condominiums and cooperatives - whether owner-occupied or rental -- plus all second home purchases. It's even refusing to look at loans to investors or owner-occupants that have limited documentation in any market, whether declining or not.
Other major mortgage insurers are expected to follow some, if not all, of United's tough new restrictions in the coming weeks.
Bottom line: Easy money days for investors, especially anybody looking to pick up condo units are over. Don't hold your breath waiting for the return of nothing-down, no-doc financing for speculators looking to flip condo contracts for quick profits.
How much of an affect this will have on the SoCal real estate market is anyone’s guess but it’s obviously not going to help it. At this stage in the collapse removing another pillar from the foundation of buyers is a dangerous move. After all the investors are the ones that are supposedly going to stop the fall by purchasing all the homes once the rent/buy ratio turns positive. If those investors are removed who is going to hold the net?
Monday, April 28, 2008
I usually only post the county wide numbers from housing tracker for Riverside and San Bernardino. This week I have posted those and then the numbers for just the core IE areas. You can see from the two sets that the core areas are falling a little faster and have fallen farther than the larger area has. That's probably to be expected since most of the largest price run ups were in these core areas.
|Trend||04/28/2008||1 month||3 month||6 month||12 month|
(SFH + Condo)
|25th Percentile||50th Percentile|
Here are the numbers for the city of Riverside and surrounding areas including Corona, Fontana. Mira Loma. Norco, MoVal and Perris. These numbers differ slightly from the first set which are for the entire Riverside San Berdu metropolitan areas including Temecula Valley and Palm Springs areas witha total of 48,253 listings. This set of numbers is just the core area of the IE and only looks at about 15,000 listings. It's interesting to note the differences between the two charts. The core areas are dropping faster and farther than the larger area is. As you can see the core area has dropped 6.3% in the last month and 15.5 in the last 3 months. Where the larger data set only dropped 3.5% last month and 12% over the last 3. My guess is that the inclusion of the desert areas is probably helping that larger data set. With the exception of Indio and Desert Hot Springs the desert has not tanked quite as bad as the rest of the IE.
Also you might note that last weeks 50th percentile number only dropped $100 for the larger county wide area but it dropped 10K in the core areas. (10K in ONE week!). This week is only $100 but that keeps the average decline at about $4k to $5k per week in the core areas.
|Trend||04/28/2008||1 month||3 month||6 month||12 month|
|Date||Inventory||25th Percentile||50th Percentile|
I think it's fairly obvious that the price declines are still going at full steam ahead!
And Now a message from the Founder of KB Homes!
April 28 (Bloomberg) -- Eli Broad, a philanthropist and co- founder of KB Home, the fifth-largest U.S. homebuilder by revenue, said he expects home prices to drop another 20 percent.
``I don't think we're anywhere near a bottom in housing,'' Broad told Bloomberg TV at the Milken Institute Conference in Beverly Hills, California. ``We're going to have a big inventory of unsold, unoccupied homes that's going to take three or four years to clear out.''
So, we are down about 30% already and another 20% puts us at 50%. I think that's in the ball park. It all depends on the local area and how crazy it went during the bubble. Some areas may only tank 40% but I would not be surprised to see some fall 60% or more.
Friday, April 25, 2008
Here's the highlights from the march report from the California association of realtors.
LOS ANGELES (April 25) – Home sales decreased 24.5 percent in March in California compared with the same period a year ago, while the median price of an existing home fell 29 percent, the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (C.A.R.) reported today.
“Sales continue to be impacted by problems in the real estate finance sector, which by some measures have eroded since the start of the year,” said C.A.R. President William E. Brown. “Sales in 2007 reached their peak last February; going forward, the year-to-year declines in sales should shrink.”
Closed escrow sales of existing, single-family detached homes in California totaled 318,830 in March at a seasonally adjusted annualized rate, according to information collected by C.A.R. from more than 90 local REALTOR® associations statewide. Statewide home resale activity decreased 24.5 percent from the revised 422,300 sales pace recorded in March 2007.
The median price of an existing, single-family detached home in California during March 2008 was $413,980, a 29 percent decrease from the revised $582,930 median for March 2007, C.A.R. reported. The March 2008 median price fell 1.3 percent compared with February’s revised $419,640 median price.
Highlights of C.A.R.’s resale housing figures for March 2008:
- C.A.R.’s Unsold Inventory Index for existing, single-family detached homes in March 2008 was 11.6 months, compared with 7.6 months for the same period a year ago. The index indicates the number of months needed to deplete the supply of homes on the market at the current sales rate.
- · Thirty-year fixed-mortgage interest rates averaged 5.97 percent during March 2008, compared with 6.16 percent in March 2007, according to Freddie Mac. Adjustable-mortgage interest rates averaged 5.12 percent in March 2008, compared with 5.44 percent in March 2007.
- · The median number of days it took to sell a single-family home was 56.7 days in March 2008, compared with 52.9 for the same period a year ago.
Sales Down 24.5%..............Check!
Yup, things are looking up. I'm sure Lawrence Yun will be putting out a press release any day now telling us all "there's never been a better time to buy".
Wouldn't it be nice to see a report that was reality based. Just once I'd like to read, "sales declined 24.5% from last year and the median price declined 29% because prices are still way too high. The California Association of realturds estimate that prices will need to fall another 25% before homes become affordable again."
I was thinking this evening about the cost of gas. After a few glasses of cheap red wine I came up with this analysis. Disclaimer, this is for entertainment purposes only!
With gas knocking on the door of $4 a gallon how much extra is that house in the OC worth for us commuters? Let's face it a large percentage of the IE workforce commutes into the OC or LA to work. We all know the reason, those areas pay more. But with the price of fuel going through the roof is it still worth it to drive 100 miles a day?
For arguments sake, let's say you have a 50 mile commute each way. That's 100 miles a day you are driving. The average MPG of the average vehicle is probably 25mpg. That means the average car is burning 4 gallons per day. At $4 a gallon that is $16 a day just in fuel. That works out to $336 per month on fuel. I'm not factoring in wear and tear on you car which probably adds another $50 a month. And god forbid you use the Fastrak lanes on the 91fwy, that can add another $200 a month easy.
The difference in the price of house you can buy is about $57,000. You can buy $57,000 more house if you live close to work and have the same monthly expenses for Mortgage and Fuel. Of course you are still probably going to have to drive a little bit. It's amazing to see how much difference it can make living close to work. ( I check the numbers on loans from $300k to $500k at 6% and its roughly $57k difference in the loan amount with a $336 payment delta).
Another way of looking at it is that you can take a job in the IE, close to home making $2.00 and hour less and end up with the same amount of money at the end of the month. And a whole lot more free time!
The only problem is that homes in the OC/LA are WAY more than $57k higher than IE homes of equal size. So it looks like the commuters will still be making the daily trek....
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Here's the first listing I've seen in Victoria Groves under $300k.
12377 Mimosa Ln, It's a 5 bedroom, 3 bathroom house that's 2470 sq/ft and it sits on a decent sized lot of just over 8000 sq/ft. The last owners did take the stove with them but the rest of te house looks to be in great shape judging from the pics. Even the back yard looks nice. This home listed as an REO 2 weeks ago at $320 and they have already reduced it to $299,900. It's not the cheapest on a price per square foot basis but it is the cheapest home in the tract by about $40k currently.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
I found a very cool little tool over on the LA Times website that gives you foreclosure info per zip code. Just type in a zip code and you get the foreclosure totals for this quarter and last year's 1st quarter. It calculates the % change and it also tells you how many households per foreclosure there are in that zip. That last number was a little shocking for some of the zips. In Perris (92571) for instance, 1 in every 25 homes was foreclosed in the first quarter of this year. ONE in TWENTY FIVE!!
To save you the trouble of looking up all the zips I did most of the popular ones. take a look at some of those numbers. riverside 92503 was up 593% over last year...that's just nuts. Here at the city, zip, 1st qtr 2007 numbers, then 2008 numbers and the change. If this does not put the fear-O-god in ya, nuthin' will!
|Corona||92879||30||142||373%||1 in 106|
|Corona||92880||33||172||421%||1 in 41|
|Corona||92881||25||91||264%||1 in 100|
|Corona||92882||53||165||211%||1 in 119|
|Corona||92883||28||155||453%||1 in 47|
|Norco||92860||10||59||490%||1 in 120|
|Murrieta||92562||63||247||292%||1 in 86|
|Murrieta||92563||63||283||349%||1 in 45|
|MoVal||92553||57||293||414%||1 in 67|
|Moval||92555||51||192||276%||1 in 35|
|Perris||92570||21||105||400%||1 in 120|
|Perris||92571||50||323||546%||1 in 28|
|Riverside||92503||31||215||593%||1 in 110|
|Riverside||92504||25||126||404%||1 in 140|
|Riverside||92505||14||92||557%||1 in 145|
|Riverside||92507||13||70||438%||1 in 271|
|Riverside||92508||19||95||400%||1 in 84|
|San Jacinto||92582||16||84||425%||1 in 31|
|Temecula||92591||20||113||465%||1 in 115|
|Temecula||92592||68||230||238%||1 in 93|
|Winchester||92596||22||122||454%||1 in 25|
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
The number of California homes going into foreclosure jumped last quarter to its highest level in more than 15 years, as the market continued to works its way through declining home values and a pool of at-risk mortgages that were originated in 2005 and 2006, a real estate information service reported.
Lending institutions sent homeowners 113,676 default notices during the January-to-March period. That was up by 39.4 percent from 81,550 the previous quarter, and up 143.1 percent from 46,760 for first-quarter 2007, according to DataQuick Information Systems. Last quarter's number of defaults was the highest in DataQuick's statistics, which go back to 1992.
"The main factor behind this foreclosure surge remains the decline in home values. Additionally, a lot of the 'loans-gone-wild' activity happened in late 2005 and 2006 and that's working its way through the system. The big 'if' right now is whether or not the economy is in recession. If it is, the foreclosure problem could spread beyond the current categories of dicey mortgages, and into mainstream home loans," said Marshall Prentice, DataQuick's president.
Although 113,676 default notices were filed last quarter, they pertained to 110,392 homes. The difference is the result of some borrowers defaulting on multiple loans (e.g. a primary mortgage and a line of credit).
Last quarter's default numbers were a record in almost all of the state's 58 counties. The notable exception being Los Angeles County, which was particularly hard hit by the recession of the early 1990s. During last quarter, the county's 20,339 defaults represented 94.8 percent of its peak quarter back in Q1 of 1996, which saw 21,444 defaults.
Of the homeowners in default, an estimated 32 percent emerge from the foreclosure process by bringing their payments current, refinancing, or selling the home and paying off what they owe. A year ago it was about 52 percent. The increased portion of homes lost to foreclosure reflects the slow real estate market, as well as the number of homes bought during the height of the market with multiple-loan financing, which makes 'work-outs' difficult.
Trustees Deeds recorded, or the actual loss of a home to foreclosure, totaled 47,171 during the first quarter. That's the highest since DataQuick began tracking Trustees Deeds in 1988. Last quarter's total rose 48.9 percent from 31,676 in the previous quarter, and jumped 327.6 percent from 11,032 in first quarter 2007. In the last real estate cycle, Trustees Deeds peaked at 15,418 in third-quarter 1996. The all-time low was 637 in the second quarter of 2005.
Foreclosure resales have emerged as a significant market factor, accounting for 33.1 percent of all California resale activity last quarter. A year ago it was 3.2 percent. Foreclosure resales vary significantly by area, from 5.1 percent in San Francisco County to 66.7 percent in San Joaquin County.
County/Region 2007Q1 2008Q1 Yr/Yr%
Los Angeles..... 8,843 ....20,339..... 130.0%
Orange ......... 2,644... 7,082 ........167.9%
San Diego .......3,931... 8,975........ 128.3%
Riverside .......5,750.. 15,022 .......161.3%
San Bernardino ..4,357.. 11,149 ....155.9%
Ventura .........965 ........2,176..... 125.5%
Monday, April 21, 2008
I've noticed a trend in the last few weeks regarding the new REO listings (in Corona and Riverside). Many of them are actually hitting the market with a decent price. It looks like a few of the REO agents are catching on. The buyers that are out there are only looking at the lowest priced units. The only way to get their attention is to hit the market low and hope for multiple bids. This is good news because as more and more agents try this tactic they will have to undercut one another for it to work. Some areas like Murrietta, MoVal and Perris have already seen prices fall 50% or more on the units that are selling. Those areas are probably close to being back in line with traditional values (on the homes that are selling). Hopefully the core areas will see some more movement they have another 25% to 30% still to go.
Here are the median asking numbers from housingtracker.net
|Trend||04/21/2008||1 month||3 month||6 month||12 month|
(SFH + Condo)
|25th Percentile||50th Percentile|
Sunday, April 20, 2008
Here it is, the first legitimate listing in The Retreat for under $500k. There have been a few short sales listed for $500k and one Auction listing, but so far all the regular resale and REO listings have been well over $500k. Prior to this listing the lowest REO listings were $539k and $549K.
8791 Soothing Ct is a 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath home of 3386 sq ft, sitting on just over a quarter acre lot. It's got all the fancy bling (pergranateel etc). It looks like this home was purchased new in Jan 2006 for $884k. It went back to the lender in Jan for $603k. It just listed for $479K. Thats a loss of $405K in just over 2 years, or 46%. I'll go out on a limb here and say that this has a decent chance of selling.
I thought I'd check and see how our old friend Eastvale was doing. A quick and dirty check using redfin found right around 500 homes for sale in the area. It looks like every home out there is for sale if you zoom out too far. Just for giggles I queried the homes under $400k and found that around 25% of the listings are under that, 44 were under $375k, 16 were under $350k and only 3 were under $325k. The lowest price per sq/ft I was able to find was $95 (short sale thought).
The best price for a REO property was 13383 Jimson Ct. This home is a 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath and it's 2983 sq/ft. It sits on a nice lot at the end of a cul de sac. The last real purchase was in Jan 2007 for $699k. This house went back to the lender fairly quickly in Jan 08 for $423k. It recently listed for $310k. That is a $380k Loss in 15 months, or 56%. Since this is the lowest priced home in the area, I think it is safe to assume this will sell in a hurry. It will probably even fetch over asking. We'll have to wait and see what the final sales price is but rest assured it will be a whole lot less than that last sale.
Saturday, April 19, 2008
Here are the latest sales numbers by Zip Code from Data Quick. I have stripped out the desert areas and other outlying areas leaving only the main population centers. As you can see the year to year decline is averaging just over $30% with many of the areas well over 40% and a few are even over 50%. Since the median prices were still going up until late summer last year I expect the year over year declines to also continue going up. I think by winter this year there will be a lot more 50% off zip codes than there are now.DataQuick also had this to say about March sales in California.
A total of 24,565 new and resale houses and condos were sold statewide last month. That makes it the slowest March in DataQuick's records, which go back to 1988. Sales were up 19.8 percent from 20,513 in February and down 38.3 percent from 39,811 for March last year. (march sales usually rise 40% from Feb sales)
Of the homes sold in March, 38.4 percent were foreclosure resales.
The median price paid for a home last month was $358,000, down 4.0 percent from $373,000 for the month before, and down 26.0 percent from $484,000 for March a year ago when the median peaked.
There was some bad news in the LA Times about employment in the IE. I did not think the employment numbers were this high in the IE but it’s looking rather bleak.
SACRAMENTO -- California's unemployment rate hit 6.2% in March, the highest level in almost four years, spurred by a continuing downturn in construction and financial activities.
Unemployment is up 1.2 percentage points from a year earlier, with 229,000 more Californians looking for work than in March 2007.
Since then, the job outlook has darkened as a largely housing-related slowdown has cut into the net worth of consumers, forcing them to cut back spending, economists said.
Tightfisted consumers have made life difficult for John Rodriguez. Two months ago, he lost his job at a furniture warehouse store that closed because of a lack of customers.